If you’re thinking about going to college, taking the PSAT and the SAT should be on your to-do list. While taking the PSAT is a smart way to get experience with the test, one of the main reasons to sit for this test is to help predict how you'll do on the SAT. The College Board doesn’t make any promises that your performance on the PSAT will equal how well you do on the SAT, but they do encourage students to look at how the scores convert.
What's the PSAT and SAT?
Other than being a mouthful of letters, the PSAT and SAT are tests used to measure the skills and knowledge needed to be college and career ready.
The PSAT is often called the “practice test” for the SAT because that's precisely what it is: a preparatory version of the SAT. Your PSAT scores will range from 320 to 1520, which is a combination of the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math tests.
These scores don't count toward your SAT, nor do they get sent to the universities. They're a tool for you to use when you study for the SAT. You'll likely take the PSAT when you're in 10th and/or 11th grade.
The SAT is one of the entrance exams colleges use when deciding on potential students. Like the PSAT, the SAT measures your readiness for college and career.
There are two sections on the SAT: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. If the college you're applying to requires the essay, you'll need to take the optional Essay section.
What are the Scores for the SAT?
There's no passing or failing the SAT. The scores that are required for admission to each college may be different, which makes reading your score report a bit challenging.
Basically, the SAT has a score structure that includes a total score (400-1600), Evidenced-Based Reading and Writing Section (200-800), Math Section (200-800) and the optional Essay section (three scores ranging from 2-8).
How to Convert Your PSAT Scores to SAT Scores
The PSAT and the SAT are scored using a common scale score for the total, section, test and cross-test scores. For instance, if you took the PSAT and received a Math section score of 550, you could score 550 on the SAT Math section.
In addition to being a tool to predict how well you may or may not do on the SAT, the PSAT also gives you a baseline score. If you take the PSAT in your 11th-grade year and score a 550 on the Math section, and then take the SAT in the fall of your senior year and score a 600, you increased your score by 50 points.